ESSENTIAL OIL

What is ESSENTIAL OIL?

In order to understand essential oil; we may first tell you what is oil?

Oil can be broadly divided into the following two major categories:

  1. Mineral oil – They are extracted from mineral sources, particularly a distillate of petroleum such as diesel, petrol, kerosene, jet fuel and aviation turbine fuel, etc.
  2. Vegetable oil – They are extracted from vegetable sources and again classified as Fixed oils and Essential oils.

Fixed oils are not volatile in nature and a mixture of esters of fatty acids such as mustard oil, coconut oil, groundnut oil and soybean oil etc.

Essential oils are volatile having a particular aroma. These oils are generally containing terpenes (monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes) and oxygenated compounds. Examples of essential oils are Lavender, Rose, Teatree, Sandalwood, Peppermint oil, Eucalyptus, Rosemary and many more.

Classification of Essential Oil

  • Monoterpenes are the largest group of chemicals found almost in all essential oils. Monoterpenes are smaller in molecular structure and more volatile than Sesquiterpenes. These are pinene, terpinene, limonene, carene, camphene, cymene, myrcene, phellandrene and sabinene. The essential oils rich in these terpenes are Mandarin, Lemon, Orange Sweet, Orange Bitter, Pine, Lime, and Grapefruit etc.
  • Sesquiterpenes are not commonly found as monoterpenes in essential oils. Sesquiterpenes are smaller in molecular structure and less volatile than monoterpenes. Common sesquiterpenes are caryophyllene, chamazulene, bisabolene, cedrene, copaene, cadinene, zingiberene, and farnesene. The essential oils rich in Sesquiterpenes are Vetivert, Cedarwood, Ginger, Cade, and Patchouli, etc.
  • Oxygenated compounds are mainly alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, oxides, and phenols.
  • Alcohols are geraniol, linalool, terpineol, bisabolol, citronellol, cedrol, menthol, santalol. The essential oils rich in alcohol are Sandalwood, Rosewood, Palmarosa, Geranium, and Lavender
  • Aldehydes are generally citrus-like aroma. Examples are citronellal, citral, geranial, and neral, etc. The essential oils rich in aldehyde are Lemongrass, Citronella, and Melissa
  • Phenols are powerful anti-bacterial and less volatile having irritating properties. These are eugenol, thymol, anethole, carvacrol, estragole, and chavicol. The essential oils rich in phenols are Clove bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Basil, and Fennel, etc.
  • Ketones are minty-camphoraceous odor, highly penetrating having therapeutic benefits such as thujone, pulegone, camphor, menthone, carvone, fenchone, and jasmone. The essential oils rich in ketones are Spearmint, Eucalyptus, Caraway, Rosemary, and Sage, etc.
  • Esters are generally fruity aroma-bearing compounds. Examples are geranyl acetate, linalyl acetate, benzyl benzoate, benzyl acetate, and methyl salicylate. The essential oils rich in esters are Wintergreen, Sweet birch, Chamomile, Bergamot, and Clary Sage, etc.
  • Oxides have an intense aroma found in a variety of eucalyptus oil and other camphoraceous oils commonly used in respiratory diseases. These are 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol), caryophyllene oxide, rose oxide, linalool oxide, bisabolol oxide, and pinene oxide. The essential oils rich in oxides are Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Chamomile, Lavender spike, and Ravensara.

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